North Korea already poses a major security threat to its East Asian neighbors. It has one of the world's largest standing armies and a formidable if aging arsenal of artillery that could target Seoul, the capital of South Korea. Nearly 30,000 U.S. forces are based in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War that ended with an armistice, not a formal peace treaty.
The North's short-range rockets could also potentially target another core U.S. ally, Japan.
Darryl Kimball, executive director of the nongovernmental Arms Control Association, said those capabilities, rather than the North's future ability to strike the U.S., still warrant the most attention.
Matthew Pennington reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Alexa Olesen in Beijing contributed to this report.
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